Full of fish-finger sandwiches, secret jungles, nefarious plots and cryptic codes, it’s addictive slapstick, with Smith’s appealingly arch black, white and orange illustrations. The Guardian
This is quite a new book - the paperback edition was published this year. I have loved Alex T Smith ever since he introduced me to Claude. The Mr Penguin series are a little longer but once again we have a special sidekick to assist our hero.
Mr Penguin is down on his luck and down to his last fish finger sandwich. He places an advertisement in the newspaper offering his services as an adventurer and solver of mysteries.
Mr Penguin gets into work on time at 9am thinking "that today his telephone would be ringing its head off from the moment he flipped the CLOSED sign on his office door over to OPEN ... but this hadn't been the case at all. His telephone had sat tight-lipped and silent."
When the phone finally does ring it sounds like the perfect adventure for Mr Penguin and his side-kick Colin. I just need to talk a little about the wonderful Colin. He is a spider. He uses a notebook to communicate IN CAPITAL LETTERS. Colin is a loyal friend to Mr Penguin and has a most useful skill of kung fu. Mr Penguin has another special friend - Edith Hedge "who lived in the park and fed the birds. (she was) wearing fifteen different anoraks, one of top of the other, belted at the waist with a large bum bag. Sitting on top of her head was a pigeon. He was called Gordon."
Boudicca Bones, director of the Museum of Extraordinary Objects. The museum is in desperate need of funds for urgent repairs and there is a possibility that the original founder of the museum Sir Randolph Bones may have hidden some treasure somewhere in this vast museum. Mr Penguin and Colin arrive at the museum and Miss Bones and her gigantic brother Montague outline the problem, share the clues they have found so far and even produce a useful map - X marks the spot!
Of course things are not quite straightforward. As a reader you may be suspicious of this Miss Bones and her odd brother but Mr Penguin is determined to solve this case so he can boost his finances and get home to eat his packed lunch of a precious fish finger sandwich.
This romp has twenty three very short chapters presented over 203 pages of large print often on coloured paper. This story just zooms along. I read over 100 pages with out pausing. This book is perfect for newly independent readers. As a guide if your child has enjoyed The Bad Guys by Aaron Blabey this series featuring Mr Penguin would be the perfect next book.
You could also look for some other slap-stick style detective stories
High Rise Private Eye
Detective Donut and the Wild Goose Chase by Bruce Whatley (sadly out of print but hopefully in your local library)
Detective Gordon series
Timmy Failure series
Pip Street series
Good news there is a sequel to Mr Penguin and the lost treasure which will be published later this year.